Tim’s Thirteen of 2013

So ends 2013, just like that! What a year! We have continued to grow and do so much here at The Mind Reels, and we’re hoping for an even bigger year next year! So I decided to throw together a list of the movies I most enjoyed this year, the ones that got to me, the ones that made me love movies, and the ones that made me think. Are they the best films of the year? That’s not up to me. I just know that for me each of these movies was a fantastic cinematic experience, and that’s why I go to the movies…

Here they are, the 13 theatrical experiences that made my year.

5-25-775-25-77 (Patrick Read Johnson) – As soon as I heard about this movie, I wanted to see it. This film sounded like a film that was specifically tailored to me. A dreamer, longing to fit in and but be something more, and the biggest cinematic event on the horizon. You can read my original review here, and I cannot wait to see this film again. This on going back through all the titles below, was my singular most favorite experience in the theater this year. Amazing!!

The film is still making the festival rounds, and if you are lucky enough to be able to attend a screening, do it, and where your love for movies, sci-fi and geekdom proudly, because this is your movie. You will recognize parts of yourself, and your friends up there on the screen, and it resonates so beautifully with who I am.

I cannot wait to have a chance to see it again. I’m at the point I think where I’m going to beg Patrick for a copy to watch repeatedly ad infinitum (OH PLEASE, Patrick, PLEASE!!!).

Check out my original review here.

wpid-TheHunt.jpegThe Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg) – This one I got to see while I covered the Bermuda International Film Festival, which meant I got to go home, and see movies… perfect. This is one of the films that made me think, made me feel. It’s not always the easiest watch as Mads Mikkelsen’s character of Lucas has his life ripped apart by a small town because of the accusations of a little girl (Annika Wedderkopp).

Watching how everyone turns on him, making his life a complete ruin, is infuriating and frustrating. Everyone just automatically believes the little girl, talking about things she’s seen and done.

The performances are powerful, and without fault. It’s a strong film that showcases Mikkelsen’s incredible talent, and watching his character change and transform with everything he goes through is believable and heartfelt.

A fantastic watch!

Read my original review here.

hobbitThe Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug (Peter Jackson) – I love Middle Earth, I can lose myself along the winding roads, among the Misty Mountains, spends days in the Shire, and I have walked into Mordor.

The Desolation of Smaug, the second film in The Hobbit trilogy is a stronger film than it’s predeccesor (though I like it as well), the pacing and action move along and we find ourselves meeting the dragon, Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) as Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) continues his career as an unlikely burglar.

Gorgeous sets, costumes, locations and actors against a musical score by Howard Shore, makes for another strong entry in the stories of Middle Earth. But then, sadly, it all wraps up next year with the final film.

Still, for me, there is nothing cooler than watching Ian McKellen as Gandalf stride across the big screen.

I think it’s almost time to go back and watch them all again. Check out my original review here.

iron-man-3-international-posterIron Man 3 (Shane Black) – I’ve loved the Marvel Movies, since the first Iron Man, I can take or leave almost all of them before that. Now that they’ve created this massive, cross-film world, it’s always fun to go back and visit.

And when I heard that Shane Black was writing and directing this installment of the Iron Man franchise, having loved his and Robert Downey Jr.’s work so much in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I was practically giddy with excitement.

This time around Tony Stark (Downey) takes on the mysterious Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) as Alrdich Killian (Guy Pearce) works on the Extremis Project.

Picking up shortly after where The Avengers left off, it finds Tony in a tough place emotionally, and through the film he works through it, as all heroes do, while taking on the villains. This time around Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) gets to save the hero and of course, with Shane Black’s dialogue and direction there are some awesome moments.

I can’t wait for the next Marvel installment that excites me this much!

sak1Sex After Kids (Jeremy Lalonde) – I’m very happy to recognize the fact that my friend Jeremy has made another film that ended up being one of my favorites of the year.

A fun, quirky film with an epic cast, a number of whom Sue and I are fortunate enough to have interviewed and call friends, the film chronicles the ups and downs of relationships after a child has come into the picture.

Amanda Brugel practically steals the film, and Kate Hewlett and Mary Kronhert’s relationship is a gorgeous thing to watch.

Funny, sexy, and with Lalonde’s usual ear for fun dialogue, I felt this one far outstrips his previous film, which I adored, The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard.

It’s still making the rounds out there, and if you can find one to watch, please do! Check out my look at it here.

Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting to see what the talented Lalonde comes up with next…

Network_PosterThe Network (Eva Orner) – A fantastic documentary that I got to see screened at the Bermuda International Film Festival, as well as being able to have a brief chat with the amazing director.

The Network follows the development of the first media group to grow and blossom in Afghanistan. It’s amazing to watch how these young people come together, not for glory, not for money, or media fame. They come to work there to make their country a better place, to help it through its growing pains.

They created news programmes, television shows, educational programmes…

By turns hopeful and heartbreaking Orner has made a fantastic doc that looks at Afghanistan in a way few of us have seen it, watching from the outside, and it opens one’s eyes about what is actually going on there, and the people who are trying to make their world a better place.

A gorgeous film.

Check out my original review here, and see it if you can.

alphee_of_the_starsAlphee of the Stars (Hugo Latulippe) – The Hot Docs film festival here in Toronto always has a number of gems that resonate with me, but of all of them that I saw this year, and I got to see a bunch, Alphee of the Stars touched me the most.

Little 5 year-old Alphee suffers from a rare genetic disease known as Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, and her family, after the local schools recommend a program for intellectually challenged children, pick up and move.

For 2 years, they leave behind Quebec and live in Switzerland, embracing a slower pace set by the needs of their daughter. A gorgeous film filled with hope and love, chronicling the growth of this wonderful little girl, as well as the family around her.

Perhaps we could all take a cue from her, instead of constantly rushing about, we should learn to slow it down a little, enjoy all of the moments that life has to share, and be with the ones who are most important to us.

You can check out my original piece here.

pacific_rim_ver12_xlgPacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro) – Giant monsters fighting giant robots directed by one of my most favorite directors, what’s not to like? And seeing it in 3D on the IMAX screen, does it get any better??

del Toro’s film is a big love letter to his own childhood, and rekindled a lot of my own as well. The invasion of Earth is underway, but it didn’t come from the stars, it came from a rift deep in the ocean, through which giant monsters emerge.

To combat them, giant machines are built, for two pilots, and then the mayhem begins.

With a fantastic cast including favorites Idris Elba and Ron Pearlman this film taps into the sheer joy of movies. This is a popcorn movie in the best way, giant-sized entertainment, with great sequences, fun moments, and fantastic visual effects.

I walked out of this one pumped and ready to watch it again! I’d expected to like it, I didn’t realize I was going to love it.

Check out my original take on it here.

wpid-BeyondTheHillsPoster.jpgBeyond The Hills (Cristian Mungiu) – This is another fantastic film that I saw screened at the Bermuda International Film Festival.

Based on a four volume, non-fiction work about a supposed possession at a remote monastery, the film explores the concepts of love, faith, and the way the old world and the new world clash in the modern world.

The two leads, Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan shared the best actress prize at Cannes, and the film also nabbed best screenplay at the same festival.

It’s starkly and beautifully shot, and the subject matter is harrowing and heartbreaking, as these two women, who grew up together, who loved one another, find themselves on opposite sides of a religious divide, and the consequences that befall them both.

Clocking in at just short of 3 hours, this one wraps you up, and captivates you, a fantastic cinematic achievement.

See my original look at it here.

Europa-Report-2013-Movie-Poster1Europa Report (Sebastian Cordero) – This one I think is my favorite film from this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival Spotlight series. It had the most realistic portrayal of space travel since 2001, and had a story of fear and discovery on the most likely place to have life in our solar system, currently, Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

Filmed through a series of mounted cameras on suits and on the ship itself, it is a found-footage film, but it raises itself beyond that into actual pure science fiction as humanity gets out there, explores, facing and challenging the unknown to learn and become.

I love films like this, and it was so easy for me to buy into the reality of it on the big screen, now that it’s available on Netflix, I am totally watching this one again very soon.

I love when movies approach the thought of space exploration and contact in a realistic and believable way, it just fans the flames within me that wants to see us out there, exploring, becoming more than what we are now, changing those we meet, as they change us.

Contact. The idea is mind-blowing…

My original review is here.

conspiracyThe Conspiracy (Christopher MacBride) – Starring Aaron Poole (who along with Laura de Carteret and Christopher Macbride recorded a fantastic chat with Sue and I, which was then mysteriously lost…) this film taps into a level of paranoia I haven’t felt since The X-Files.

Two documentary filmmakers get caught up in an international conspiracy. When the subject of their documentary, a conspiracy buff (Alan C. Petersen) disappears, Aaron (Poole) and Jim (James Gilbert) find themselves getting drawn into a web of intrigue as connections between historical events and a group called the Tarsus Club begin to arise.

Unsure of what to believe the two are followed by black SUVs, menaced, and informed… until an opportunity presents itself to infiltrate one of the Tarsus Club’s gatherings.

And there things get even more sinister.

A well crafted paranoid thriller that poses as a documentary and successfully blurs the lines between fact and fiction, and makes you wonder how close to the mark some of the film actually is…

My original look at it can be found here.

worlds-end-poster-2World’s End (Edgar Wright) – The final installment of the Cornetto Trilogy mixes genres as well as the previous installments, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. This time it’s comedy and sci-fi as a group of friends attempt to complete a pub crawl that they didn’t finish in their youth.

Simon Pegg plays Gary King, who thinks his life has done nothing but go down hill since his days in high school, and is attempting the pub crawl, The Golden Mile, as a last shot at reclaiming his former glory. He wrangles in his former friends, all of whom have grown apart, including Nick Frost and Martin Freeman, and make a run at, discovering at the same time, that the location of their pub crawl has in fact been taken over by alien robots.

The dialogue is hilarious, there are actually some poignant moments as well as a kick-ass soundtrack.

While this entry marks the end of the Cornetto Trilogy, I sincerely hope that Wright, Pegg and Frost continue making films together. They are an unbeatable trio, and so much fun to watch what they come up.

My original review is here.

day-of-the-doctorAnd finally there was the theatrical screening of The Day of The Doctor (Nick Hurran). While this is technically a television show, it screened for 3 days in theaters to coincide with the show’s 50th anniversary, in an amazing 3D presentation, and came it at No.2 at the box office for that week. Not bad at all.

Featuring the story of a previously unknown Doctor (John Hurt), the return of 10 (David Tennant) and Billie Piper, the 50th Anniversary with Matt Smith’s Doctor, and Clara (Jenna Coleman) at his side, is probably one of the strongest Doctor Who stories to have come along in a while (no matter how much I love the show, even I can admit some of the stories of late haven’t been all they could be).

But for the 50th, they pulled out all the stops, and seeing it with an audience that geeked out and cheered, clapped and teared up at all the same moments I did. THAT is an amazing experience.

My original review is here.

What were your favorite cinematic moments of 2013 and what are you most looking forward to movie-wise for 2014?

The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard – Available On Demand!

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The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, starring Lost Girl’s Kris Holden-Ried and Zoie Palmer, is a film that will always have an important part in my life, it was one of my fave films of 2011, and also created a number of friendships and acquaintances with some amazing people, not the least of which is Jeremy Lalonde, Mary Krohnert, Anthony Grani, Christine Horne, Kris Holden-Ried and Pat Mastroianni. You can have a look at my original review here…

Now this funny, touching, and highly enjoyable film is available on Vimeo On Demand, which means you can watch it in the comfort of your own home, and this is so a movie to cuddle up on the couch with, snuggle close to someone you care about, and enjoy. So click this link here to check out the film on Vimeo, or you can check out the official site here or here.

After you watch it, let me know what you think!

 

 

 

 

August in the Underworld

Our friends Mary Krohnert and Anthony Grani brought this amazing project they are involved with to our attention. Created by Marchlight Films and using the creative talents of some amazing folk like Mark Huisman, Ben Deutsch and Claire Francis Muir amongst others, it’s bringing back old school puppetry to the cg-inundated 21st century in what promises to be a fun tale about good versus evil, romance, adventure, slugs, and the underworld!!

Check out their trailer below, follow them on Twitter @AugustSeries, find them on Facebook under August In The Underworld, and share it all with your friends! It’s going to be a lot of fun! Just wait til you see the podcast!!!

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The Mind Reels Catches Up With Mary Krohnert

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Sue and I are happy to welcome back our dear friend Mary Krohnert, talking about her film An Amish Murder, Sex After Kids, The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, her theater workshop, art therapy, general geekiness, and who she would play in the Avengers and Les Miserables.

She’s such a wonderful woman and actor, have a look… We really need to get her on Haven or Lost Girl!

Sex After Kids – Cast & Crew Screening

sak1I loved The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, both Sue and I have made no secret of our love for that film. We both ranked it as one of our favorite films of 2011, but my friend Jeremy LaLonde, with his latest creation, Sex After Kids, has made a film that is leaps and bounds ahead of his previous outing.

He has expanded the canvas of his creative world on screen, Paul Shepherd was shot as a faux documentary, in effect, making the camera one of the characters by it’s presence, Sex After Kids is just pure film and storytelling. In my mind, I drew this  comparison, TUWOPS is 35mm, Sex After Kids pushes the curtains to the edge of the theatre and sweeps out to full 70mm. Awesome-Sauce!

Without going into too much detail, this film comes down to being one of the most perfectly crafted romantic-comedy-dramas I have ever seen, it’s easily in my top 5 relationship movies ever! The cast is amazing, and is a who’s who of brilliance, Kate Hewlett, Paul Amos, Mary Krohnert, Gordon Pinsent, Amanda Brugel, Ennis Esmer, Zoie Palmer, Kris Holden-Ried, Shannon Beckner, Jay Brazeau, Katie Boland, Peter Keleghan, Mimi Kuzyk, David Tompa and Kristin Booth.

There’s not an off-note, a missed opportunity, or bad performance, while admittedly most of the characters are quirky, they always seemed to be grounded in the reality created by the film. The writing, as we’ve come to expect from Jeremy is top-notch, it’s tightly edited, and completely engrossing and entertaining. Only two weeks into 2013, and I think I may have already found my favorite film of the year.

I’m not going to give any plot points, or storylines away, I want the viewers – watch for it at Film Festivals first! – to have the same wonderful experience without spoilers. At it’s heart the film follows a number of couples, all played by some of  the most engaging and wonderful performers, a high standard Jeremy established behind the camera as well, with his fantastic crew.

onsetLike the title says, the film explores relationships after kids have been added to the mix, it deals with themes of what defines a family, fidelity, single parents, and empty nests. At its heart Jeremy has written a love letter to parents everywhere.

Funded by his very succesful Indiegogo campaign, and he thanks all of his contributors in the credits, Jeremy and company, including producer Jennifer Liao who has a surprise cameo to watch out for, have put a beautifully shot film on the big screen. Making use of the Red Epic camera, the high-definition image showed that not only can Jeremy write a script but in conjunction with co-cinematographers Ann Tipper and Zach Melnick he can capture some truly lovely images.

The Cast and Crew screening held at The Royal Cinema in Toronto erupted in cheers and applause at the film’s end, after laughing, and clapping their way in enjoyment through the cinematic landscape. Most of the cast were in attendance for the the Q&A session with Jeremy after the film’s end, before we all had to clear out, and meet up for the After Screening party.

Cast and crew intermingled with contributors and fans, chatting, laughing, swapping stories and making for a fantastic end to the evening.

Sex After Kids will have its international premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, but watch the festival circuit, because if it gets to your area, this one is a must!

sak

Happy 1st Birthday for The Mind Reels!

When I was younger, physically and chronologically, not mentally, I often thought about talking and working with people in the entertainment industry. I also thought about being a starship captain like James T. Kirk or walking with dinosaurs, but hey, one dream at a time.

Growing up, I was not necessarily an outsider, but I was often on the fringes of my school groups, I wasn’t necessarily the ‘weird kid’, I was just interested in different things. They liked the movie where such and such happened. I may have liked the same film, but I was always more interested in how the such and such happened on the big screen, the story behind the story. And that’s what I wanted to do with my life, maybe write, maybe direct, maybe even act!

Life, as it tends to, got in the way, and I found myself manning the counter of two of the bigger names in home video rentals, and watched the transition from VHS to DVD, and DVD to Blu-Ray.

It wasn’t til last year, as my 40th Birthday leaned threateningly over the horizon, that someone dear to my heart (you know who you are) pushed and nudged me, insisting I do something with my love of film, television and pop culture. I toyed with the idea as I crawled into bed that night, and just as I was drifting to sleep, my eyes snapped open, and I turned the lights back on, jotting down a title on the notepad I keep next to my bed. ‘The Mind Reels.’ I liked it. It worked. And it worked on a couple of levels. Brilliant I thought.

The next morning, I ran the idea past one of my best friends, Sue, and convinced her (it didn’t take a lot) to partner up with me on this idea. I sought out the advice of where the best place was to start up a blog, and got some advice on podcasting from my friend Ryan, and boom.

Within 24 hours, The Mind Reels had been created.

And now here we are.

1 year later.

And what a year this has been, this blog and our podcast, has taken off beyond any of the dreams I had for the first year. I’ve met some amazing people, some I’m lucky enough now to call my friends, seen tons of movies and TV. I do need to do a little more in the book department (I’m constantly reading – I just never make a post about them, I’ll see about changing that) and yet for all that we’re constantly expanding.

We’ve covered film festivals (thank you Hot Docs! WorldWide Short Film Festival, Toronto After Dark Summer Nights), we’ve covered conventions (Niagara Fall Comic Con, Wizard World Toronto Comic Con, and Fan Expo!) we’ve been to screenings, set visits (Sex After Kids, Pete Winning & The Pirates) and then, there’s the podcasts!

We’re now featured on the internet channel Smithee.TV and Sue and I are constantly looking at one another with dumbstruck looks on our faces… how did this happen?

Our friend Ryan, whose own website is brilliant, gave me all kinds of advice on podcasts, and then after that very important screening of The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, which we did to support our love of Lost Girl, and it’s cast members Zoie Palmer and Kris Holden-Ried who were both in it, the world of interviews opened up to us thanks to one man… Jeremy LaLonde.

We took a chance, and contacted him and asked him if there was any conceivable way that he would meet us for an interview.

And he surprised us both when he said yes.

I mean, we were shocked! I mean honestly… who were we? Just a couple of people who were interested in films, admittedly I had written a raving review of Paul Shepard (SUCH A GOOD MOVIE!!!).

But Jeremy, one of the people I know count myself lucky to call a friend, told us that in most cases, interviews would be ours for the asking. You just have to find the right route, the right contacts, and network. This year has seen a lot of that.

And look how it’s paid off for us, what a guest list we’ve had… IN OUR FIRST YEAR!!! Jeremy LaLonde, Beth Beard, Christine Horne, Katie Boland, Anna Silk, Rick Howland, Nadia Bassett, Tanya Lemke, Jodi Anne Balfour, Victor Webster, Ali Liebert, Mary Krohnert, Charlotte Hegele, KC Collins, Natasha Eloi, Emily Schooley, Sandra DaCosta, Devon Bostick, Tim Doiron, April Mullen, Amanda Brugel, Mary Krohnert, Anthony Grani, Kate Hewlett, Tony Amendola, Miracle Laurie, Robert O’Reilly, JG Hertzler, Huse Madhavji, Paul Amos, Stacie Mistysyn, Sean Cisterna, Supinder Wraich, Dan Fox, Jay Ferguson, Lucas Bryant, Casey Hudecki, Nina Conti, Ryan Goldhar, Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart, Sylvia Caminer, Melanie Lentz-Janney, Clay Peterson, Michael Harmon, Michael MacLennan, Adrienne Mitchell, Janis Lundman, Rebecca Sandulak, Tanis Rideout, Simon Racioppa, Tony Todd, Jamie Bamber, Daniska Esterhazy, Bruce Sweeney, Chloe Rose, Seth Cooperman, Ashley Hirt, Rebecca Gibson, Kiowa Gordon and Meg Tilly.

HOLY CRAP!

Thank you, each and every one of you! You have made such a huge impact on myself and Sue, you’ve come on our show, you’ve made us feel like friends and family, and you’ve spread the enjoyment you’ve had with us to others.

And THIS has just been our first year doing interviews and podcasts!

Now we’ve moved into our full studio, soon to be podcasting live and our guest list seems to be growing, and we’ve got so many amazing things in the works, familiar faces and friends will be back, as will new and amazing guests. Who would you like to see come on the show? I have a dream list that I am constantly updating, and I’m really starting to dream big! I’d love to chat with Steven Moffat, or Steven Spielberg! I’d love to kick back and laugh and have a chinwag with Tom Hanks! But you know what?

I wouldn’t change a thing about any of the interviews we’ve had. Every single one of them has been FANTASTIC, and I truly believe that once they realized we weren’t your usual interview, they all had a great time, and just relaxed and opened up.

In fact, that is my favorite moment in each and every interview, the point that I constantly bring up with Sue in our post-interview talk… I love when each and every guest reaches that relaxation point and just chats to us. They openly relax, we’ve got them to relax by talking about something like their favourite movie, and then we’re just chatting and laughing with one another. That is always my favourite part.

Everybody does interviews, we’ve always been more interested in having a conversation.

It’s literally been a whirlwind, and Sue and I are right there in the center of it. It’s been amazing!

And people read our posts, people listen to our interviews!

That still amazes us, and from the bottom of our hearts, I thank each and every one of you. You read what we write, you retweet it, you respond to it, you tweet us your thoughts about what we’ve shared, you’ve helped us chase down interviews, and we’ve been lucky enough to meet some of you in person.

We have been so fortunate with the people who have come to our website.

So, with my eyes a little teary as I write this…

Thank you.

Thank you so much.

And for me personally, Thank you for letting me do what I’ve always wanted to do, and letting me know that I’m not wasting my time with it.

As we move into our second year, I have high hopes, aspirations and dreams for what’s to come for The Mind Reels, and I know it’s not going to be easy, we’re going to have to work at it, to make it be all that it can! To push ourselves, to chase down leads on stories and interviews. It’s really hard work, but it’s paying off, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. Because I do.

I’m looking forward to many more birthday celebrations for The Mind Reels, looking back on what we’ve done, and going boldly forward to our next goals, challenges, and oh, all those amazing people we get to meet.

Sex After Kids Cast Members

As you can see in the other post today, I got a chance to visit the Sex After Kids set while they shot on the park on a gorgeous day, and just last weekend , Sue and I were invited back to the set where we got to chat with a couple more of the cast.

Each of the interviews is fairly short and sweet, but undeniably fun, and it shows the love that the cast have not only for the project, but for their director and castmates as well.

Jeremy has surrounded himself with some amazing and lovely people, all of whom were gracious with their time, and made us feel like part of the family.

Of course it helps that a few of the wonderful people we’d spoken to were former guests, and if we can be so bold, friends. It was great to see all of them again, and catch up with them, hear what they have to say about this project, without too many spoilers, and just chat about life in general.

So join Sue and I, as we chat with Amanda Brugel, Kate Hewlett, Mary Krohnert, Christine Horne, and yes, finally appearing briefly on our show… Kris Holden-Ried (hopefully we can invite him back for a longer chat in the future).

So please join us as we chat with Sex After Kids Cast Members.

Sex After Kids – Set Visit

“Let the chaos begin,” director Jeremy Lalonde says, repositioning his trademark hat as he returns to his station at the monitor.

“Action.”

And the scene comes to life before my eyes.

It’s mid-afternoon on the set of Sex After Kids and he’s watching an establishing shot of a party in the park. On the screen in front of him, Katie Boland tosses a rubber ball to some children, while Zoie Palmer and Paul Amos talk in the background, to the left of them, an attractive group of ladies, Mary Krohnert, Kate Hewlett and Amanda Brugel are chatting, and Kristin Booth wanders through the frame pushing a stroller.

He waits, watches, making sure he gets what he wants, and moment later, “cut” is called.

For me, this has been an awesome day, for everyone else it’s just another day on set.

I arrived just before 10 in the morning and learned that most of the cast and crew had been up and about since about 6, and on set before 7am! Greeted by Jennifer Liao, who shares producing credit with Jeremy (who also wrote the film) I grab a chair by the production tent, and settle in to watch, from a distance, as Jeremy and his crew work with Zoie and Paul as they film a scene of the two of them strolling through a park talking.

And it’s the perfect day for it.

The sun is warm, dancing on the wealth of green leaves overhanging the park from the towering trees, light flickers back and forth as a breeze pushes the branches about and keeps things cool. Grey-furred squirrels chase one another around the trunks of trees, as people with dogs or children wander about the park.

Between takes, Jeremy steps forward, coaching his actors, as Trina Brink, the make-up artist for the first half day steps forward to touch up Zoie’s hair. Moving back to their first marks, the take rolls again.

Jeremy is happy, and calls a wrap on the scene. A car arrives quickly to spirit Paul and Zoie away for a change of wardrobe as the crew races to change locations, racing the day, the light, and the quick turnaround of a costume change. Co-cinematographer and camera operator Zach Melnick lugs the Red Epic camera over to a bunch of benches, while Dennis Alexander Nicholson maneuvers his boom into a position that won’t show in the frame.

Yvonne Drebert, the key grip, has her people moving and setting up incredibly quickly, reflectors and light bouncers sliding into place under the hand of familiar face of one of our former guests and the producer of The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, Anthony Grani.

Co-cinematographer Ann Tipper sets up the monitor in its new position, and wires up the focus-puller so she can watch the shot from the monitor with Jeremy.

Overseeing all of it, with a ballcap and sunglasses in place, a script never far from her hand is the 1st AD (Assistant Director) Chris Ross.

Minutes later, Zoie and Paul are back on set, settling onto the bench, and after a quick run through of the scene, Jeremy is ready for the cameras to roll.

Around all of this, Toui Manikhouth, the set and production designer, is hard at work decorating trees with balloons, streamers and signs proclaiming Happy Birthday.

That’s when not only the awesomeness of the magic of film hits me, but also the work that goes into it. Not 10 meters away, Paul and Zoie are filming one scene, all while Toui sets up for the party scene. And because of the position of the camera, the angle of the shot, you can’t see any of that.

Jeremy has his shots figured out, though he always listens to his crew for advice and suggestions, and knows exactly what he needs to get for each shot, knowing where the cuts will be from wide, to medium to close-up.

The man is prepared.

I get to say hi to Juli Strader, the publicist for the production, who, through Jeremy’s kind permission, got me on set for the day. She and Jen talk and co-ordinate, they, like each and every other member of the crew help out in any way that they can.

Over by the benches, the camera repositions for another take and angle, and there’s a sudden burst of laughter as Zoie, Paul and Jeremy share a joke.

There is an easy sense of professionalism that permeates the set. Everyone is comfortable and knowledgeable in their positions. They are in those spots, because each one of them is capable, and they all know they can rely on one another to get things done quick, fast and safely.

Make-up steps in to fix Zoie’s hair, and they camera rolls one last time on that scene.

This time when cut is called, Paul gives me a wave as they slip back into a car to race back to change wardrobe, get some errands in, lunch, and maybe even a nap before they are needed back on the set for 2ish.

The two of them, like everyone else here, are doing this in what free time they have. Everyone has a daytime job, whether on another production, in an office, or a warehouse, it’s a miracle that they all have the energy they do.

The lovely, and charming Amanda Brugel arrives on set with her wonderful son and mother in tow. We’re introduced, and have a fun little chat with one another, watch for that podcast!

Although I’m not involved in the film, I don’t think I could’ve cast these roles any better than Jeremy already has. He has amassed some of the best, most attractive and talented  people, in front of and behind the cameras. I felt stunningly handsome by proximity!

Shortly after, I was delighted to see two of our former guests arrive, wonderful ladies I am fortunate enough to know and call friends, Mary Krohnert and Kate Hewlett.

After a round of hugs, we all wander over to the next set-up, a swing-set which marks the first meeting, on-camera, of Mary’s Kate’s and Amanda’s characters.

Jeremy invites me behind the monitor with him, and I watch the scene play out, the few lines of dialogue I hear (I went out of my way to not listen to much of it – I don’t want any spoilers) are sharp and funny, everything I would expect from the writer of The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, and after one wickedly delivered line by Kate, and a horrified look from Amanda, the set descends into raucous laughter after cut is called.

They shoot a medium and then a wide, the crew moving fast to move reflectors around, and work to keep the camera cool, sitting as it is in the hot sun.

Jeremy runs the scene again, and then calls out, “That’s lunch!”

It’s just after 1 in the afternoon, and most of these folks have been on the go since 6.

I’m invited to join in the lunch, and after visiting the craft services table, I settle in and chat with the crew, who are laughing and telling stories. Lunch ends up feeling more like a picnic as we sit on the grass and blankets enjoying the sun and the company.

I feel welcomed and right at home, and my geeky Yoda shirt gets some bonus points. It’s a fun time, and I’m thankful that they let me join in and feel like a part of the group.

They talk about geek things, as well as some of their own projects, but above all, it’s fun. Each and every one of them is happy to be there, putting together this film, following Jeremy’s vision.

As 2pm draws closer, more and more folks arrive on set, the brilliant Katie Boland arrives and we have a quick laugh and catch-up with one another, I also get a chance to say hi to Kristin Booth and Paul, who is back on set to shoot another scene.

As soon as lunch is over, the crew leaps into action to frame a scene for Paul, Amanda and Kristin, and once again, while I’m close enough to see everything clearly, I do my best to block out the dialogue flying around, but Kristin’s eyes sparkle with each line she delivers, she’s really enjoying herself in this scene.

I slip away while they reposition reflectors and move to a close-up on Amanda, and I sit down and chat with Kate and Mary for a few minutes (which will also be up in a podcast, stay tuned). The two of them together are so much fun, and there’s a fun chemistry around the table we’re sitting at.

Where does Jeremy find these amazing people?

It’s now time for the party scene, Toui has made the last adjustments on the trees and the table, and the cameras are in place.

It’s later in the afternoon, and Jeremy knows he’s working against the sun now. He explains to his crew exactly what he wants, positions his actors, and shoots, and shoots and shoots.

He starts with a wide establishing, and then breaks each group of actors into a separate shot filming one after another, methodically and patiently, getting what he wants and moving on.

As the clock brushes 5, Kris Holden-Ried shows for his appearance. He, like everyone else, is working under an extreme schedule, but says hi to me as we introduce ourselves to one another, before settling into his script and waiting to be called into the shot.

“Let the chaos begin,” director Jeremy Lalonde says, repositioning his trademark hat as he returns to his station at the monitor.

I don’t know about chaos, I just saw a wonderful cast and crew, on a fantastic day in Toronto working on a film that I and so many others are waiting to see…

Sex After Kids.

Some of My Fave Canadian Films!

It’s Canada Day! YAY!

And to celebrate, I thought I’d post about some of my favorite Canadian movies, we all know that Canadian television right now is amazing – Lost Girl, Bomb Girls, Continuum, Flashpoint and oh so many more, as Sue and I have constantly and consistently raved about.

So here’s a few of my favorite Canadian Films, all of them are fairly well known, so I don’t think that there will be any surprises, but have a look, and share your thougts.

First off, all hail the new flesh with David Cronenberg’s cult classic, Videodrome. Released in 1983, it still creeps me out, is still wicked to watch, and Deborah Harry is so hot in this film! James Woods plays a bit of sleaze and TV programmer, always looking for something to push the limits of his channel. And he hears about a program called, videodrome, which features sadism, sexuality, and murder. But reality and television, body and media all blur as his life spirals out of control. I also love seeing Toronto of the 80s, I see places and streets I recognize and ones I’ve never seen, as they are no longer there. Cronenberg is a master and has made some brilliant films, but this one will be my fave of his work.

Sarah Polley, herself a Canadian icon, growing up on Canadian television on the show Road To Avonlea, slipped into toe director’s chair to bring us the lovely Away From her. Based on the short story The Bear Came Over The Mountain by Alice Munro, Polley directs two screen icons masterfully. Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie star as a couple who go through an amazing trial when Christie’s character is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Heartbreaking, lovely, and an all round gorgeous film, this one is a weeper. And Sarah directs the film masterfully, eliciting fantastic performances from her stars.

Things are rotten in the brewery in this updated take on the Bard’s classic Hamlet. Strange Brew is Bob and Doug McKenzie in the big screen. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas are goofy, lovable, and stereotypical Canadians. And yes, if you actually pay attention to the story it is blatantly Hamlet, right down to the ghost of a slain father, and the name Elsinore, in this case a brewery where Bob and Doug end up employed. While I was a teen in Bermuda, I couldn’t see this movie enough. All the “eh’s?”, the shots of the CN Tower, before the dome, the stubbie beer bottles, hockey, doughnuts, and just the goofy, harmless humor of it all. Takeoff eh?

Rock Paper Scissors: The Way of the Tosser. The first film of our dear friends Tim Doiron and April Mullen. Shot in a documentary style, it’s oddball, goofy, and one could easily dismiss it, if it weren’t for the big heart that it wears on its sleeve, that makes it endearing. April and Tim put it all out there, and you can’t help but love them for it. With Dead Before Dawn 3D on the horizon, I like to go back every now and again, and revisit Holly and Gary Brewer.

The movie is just fun, and yes, there actually is a yearly RPS competition that happens here in Toronto.

The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard. This film will always be inextricably tied to The Mind Reels, and it also introduced me to some wonderful people I now count as my friends, Jeremy Lalonde, Mary Krohnert, Anthony Grani and Christine Horne. It’s a sharp, witty romantic comedy, shot in a documentary style that shows off some of the amazing talent Canada has to offer in front of and behind the cameras. And like Rock Paper Scissors, this is only the beginning for Jeremy and those lucky enough to work with him.

If you haven’t seen any of these, check them out!

Celebrate Canadians!

Celebrate Canada Day!

Eh?